Influence of maternal feeding goals and practices on children's eating behaviors

Appetite. 2016 Dec 1;107:21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 14.

Abstract

Parents are highly influential in shaping their children's dietary habits. This study examined whether negative feeding practices mediated the relationship between feeding goals (health and convenience) and children's eating behaviors. One hundred ninety-two mothers (mean age = 34.2; mean BMI = 27.0) of 7-11 year old children participated via Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Results showed that negative feeding practices fully mediated the relationship between convenience feeding goals and children's eating behaviors (goals to healthy/unhealthy eating behaviors: β = -0.08/.09, n.s.; goals to feeding practices: β = 0.27, p < 0.01; feeding practices to healthy/unhealthy eating behaviors: β = -0.57/.48, p < 0.05). On the other hand, negative feeding practices did not fully mediate the relationship between health feeding goals and children's eating behaviors (goals to healthy/unhealthy eating behaviors: β = 0.66/-0.29, p < 0.01; goals to feeding practices: β = -0.28, p < 0.001; feeding practices to healthy/unhealthy eating behaviors: β = -0.26/.44, p < 0.05). In other words, children whose mothers emphasized health goals consumed more healthy food and less unhealthy food, above and beyond the use of negative feeding practices. Because parents are on the front lines of shaping children's eating habits, understanding the best point of intervention for parents (e.g., shaping parents' goals, changing parents' feeding practices) might be especially fruitful, considering that childhood obesity has become a global public health crisis and energy intake is one of the key factors contributing to this problem.

Keywords: Children's eating behaviors; Comprehensive feeding practices questionnaire; Elementary school-age children; Feeding goals; Parental feeding practices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Mothers*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires